Maine fishermen among small business owners hoping for new paycheck protection funds

When the $350 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program ran out, many Maine fishermen were among those waiting in line. Congressional leaders are working on an agreement to be voted on this week that would reload those funds.“I’m crossing my fingers that that will occur,” Senator Susan Collins told News 8 Sunday, after a conference call with lead negotiator on the talks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Sen. Collins said negotiations on roughly $350 billion in additional funding for the program she co-authored would continue Sunday night, ahead of votes in the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday.”I strongly support adding more funding to the PPP and will keep pushing to make sure the process is fair, clear, and efficient,” Sen. Angus King said in a statement Sunday.Sen. Collins says she hopes to extend application deadlines in the new agreement beyond the current date of June 30th, because some who were self-employed had to wait.”The Small Business Administration, which is not used to dealing with people who are self-employed, had them wait an extra week,” Sen. Collins said. “And thus, by the time many of the fishermen or carpenters or plumbers or hair stylists in our state applied, the money was out.” The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association says many fishermen were uncertain if they even qualified without other full-time employees. Others were slowed down if they used a personal bank account for their operations, as the applications still went through the private banking system. “You pay yourself, you are part of that payroll,” said Ben Martens, the association’s executive director. Hopeful for a new round of funding, he’s reminding self-employed fishermen and those who hire contracted crews that they would be able to take advantage. Martens says the roll-out of the program was confusing at times, made difficult by the sheer amount of funding being distributed in a short period of time.”So, when there were hiccups,” Martens said, “unfortunately, a lot of those hiccups were sent to the back of the line and that’s where a lot of fishermen ended up.”One Maine community bank has roughly 300 applications from those who are self-employed waiting to be processed. A regional New England bank has 25,000 waiting to be processed.A separate $300 million was allocated to fishing and acquaculture industries around the country in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Fishing agencies in the Commerce Department have yet to detail how those funds will be allocated.President Trump has strongly encouraged Congress to add funds to the Paycheck Protection Program, something Secretary Mnuchin expressed optimism about Sunday. If passed, the legislation could be signed on Wednesday.

When the $350 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program ran out, many Maine fishermen were among those waiting in line. Congressional leaders are working on an agreement to be voted on this week that would reload those funds.

“I’m crossing my fingers that that will occur,” Senator Susan Collins told News 8 Sunday, after a conference call with lead negotiator on the talks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Advertisement

Sen. Collins said negotiations on roughly $350 billion in additional funding for the program she co-authored would continue Sunday night, ahead of votes in the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday.

“I strongly support adding more funding to the PPP and will keep pushing to make sure the process is fair, clear, and efficient,” Sen. Angus King said in a statement Sunday.

Sen. Collins says she hopes to extend application deadlines in the new agreement beyond the current date of June 30th, because some who were self-employed had to wait.

“The Small Business Administration, which is not used to dealing with people who are self-employed, had them wait an extra week,” Sen. Collins said. “And thus, by the time many of the fishermen or carpenters or plumbers or hair stylists in our state applied, the money was out.”

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association says many fishermen were uncertain if they even qualified without other full-time employees. Others were slowed down if they used a personal bank account for their operations, as the applications still went through the private banking system.

“You pay yourself, you are part of that payroll,” said Ben Martens, the association’s executive director. Hopeful for a new round of funding, he’s reminding self-employed fishermen and those who hire contracted crews that they would be able to take advantage.

Martens says the roll-out of the program was confusing at times, made difficult by the sheer amount of funding being distributed in a short period of time.

“So, when there were hiccups,” Martens said, “unfortunately, a lot of those hiccups were sent to the back of the line and that’s where a lot of fishermen ended up.”

One Maine community bank has roughly 300 applications from those who are self-employed waiting to be processed. A regional New England bank has 25,000 waiting to be processed.

A separate $300 million was allocated to fishing and acquaculture industries around the country in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Fishing agencies in the Commerce Department have yet to detail how those funds will be allocated.

President Trump has strongly encouraged Congress to add funds to the Paycheck Protection Program, something Secretary Mnuchin expressed optimism about Sunday. If passed, the legislation could be signed on Wednesday.